Semple has a big pedigree in comedy writing in the field of television, but this is only her second novel. It’s a convoluted tale, but the central figure is Bernadette Fox, an agoraphobic, iconoclastic ex-architect with a penchant for driving everyone around her to distraction and for strange, unexplainable disappearances. It’s the funniest book I’ve read in . . . maybe ten years. Since I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, which was when I was in college or else just recently graduated, I don’t recall exactly. The format of the book is strange, told mostly via in-story documents, e-mails, interviews, transcripts, letters, etc. Semple has a very weird, deadpan sense of humor and it just really hit the sweet spot for me. I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud this often reading a book; I would occasionally just set the book on my lap, bury my face in my hands and shake with laughter. While in public places. But at its heart, the book also has some real emotions; the relationship between Bernadette and her daughter is a compelling one and there’s a long section in the middle when we finally get the story of Bernadette’s past and it’s really painful and devastating. Anyway, this is a wonderful book. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – absolutely hilarious novel chronicles the strange life of Bernadette Fox, one of the best female characters ever; surprisingly poignant at times, but a consistent laugh riot. 4 stars.